Staying safe in New Zealand

5 minute read
new zealand map

With a CloseCircle subscription you get access to worldwide travel advice and intelligence that can help keep you safe while travelling. Find out more about the benefits of membership here.

What are the common security risks in New Zealand?

Petty and opportunist crime

Petty crime is a threat in large urban areas and busy tourist hotspots, but isn’t as serious an issue as it is in SE Asia. Pickpocketing in Wellington, Auckland and Christchurch is the biggest threat to travellers.

Property crime, including break-ins, vehicular theft and theft from vehicles, can occur in cities – so this may be something to bare in mind if staying in an AirBnB, a Bed & Breakfast or a homestay. If you’re concerned about break-ins, talk to your host who will be able to tell you more about the local area and what it is like.

new zealand map

Petty and opportunistic crime is more common in busier cities such as Wellington on the North Island and Christchurch on the South Island.

Protests and strikes

Strikes and protests are rare in New Zealand, but can occur in response to government policies, environmental concerns and labour-related grievances. In recent years, unpopular government policies, international trade agreements and slow natural disaster responses have triggered demonstrations.

In general, demonstrations and public gatherings are non-violent. However, industrial actions such as strikes can lead to service and operational disruptions, which can make it more challenging to get around. If you try to avoid public transport and service during protests then you should be fine.

Mountainous roads

The road network plays an important role in New Zealand as it connects both urban and rural areas in both the North and South islands. Generally, roads are well maintained, but you’ll need to stay alert in mountainous areas where roads are steep and winding, and driving conditions can get hazardous due to severe weather.

new zealand mountain

New Zealand’s roads are well-maintained, but be careful when driving in the mountains where ice and inclement weather can make them more tricky to navigate.

Natural hazards

What New Zealand lacks in man-made threats, it more than makes up for in natural hazards.

new zealand christchurch

Extreme weather is common during the winter months of June, July and August, while cyclone season (Nov – April) often leads to storm systems that can trigger floods and landslides. Severe weather can ground flights and make driving hazardous.

New Zealand is also susceptible to earthquakes, whose intensity ranges from light tremors to dangerous, high impact events. Approximately 14,000 quakes are reported each year, although only around 150 – 200 tremors are felt in populated communities. High risk areas include the West coast as well as several parts of Grey, Hurunui, Marlborough and Kaikoura, all located in South Island.

The South Island is more prone to earthquakes than the North Island. High risk areas include the West coast as well as Grey, Hurunui, Marlborough and Kaikoura, which is located up the coast from Christchurch, where a major earthquake struck in 2011.


Preparing to stay safe ahead of your trip

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Duplicate documents

Make colour copies of your important travel documents, including your passport and flight tickets.

Leave one set at home with loved ones and keep another set with you in your backpack or suitcase so that you have copies in case you lose the originals or they are stolen. You could also leave them in the safe at your hotel or hostel if you don’t feel comfortable carrying them with you.

Alternatively, make digital copies and send them to your email so that you can access and print them as and when needed.

Travel insurance

New Zealand is a relatively threat free environment to explore…if we discount the fact that the New Zealand environment can be quite threatening. With the potential for earthquakes, typhoons, tsunamis and many other extreme natural hazards to occur, it makes sense to get some travel insurance and give yourself a safety net in case the worst occurs.

new zealand cave

New Zealand may be a relatively threat-free, but you should still get some travel insurance just incase. Knowing you’re covered can be a real weight off your mind.


Staying safe in New Zealand

Keep your valuables close

We recommend keeping valuables in a backpack worn on both shoulders (a single shoulder may look cool, but it’s much easier to yank off of you). You could also opt for a bumbag or moneybelt worn under your top so that your valuables are close at hand yet discreetly hidden.

Drive safely

Although you needn’t be concerned with poor quality roads while cruising around New Zealand, you’ll need to more careful when driving through the mountains. You’ll find that the roads become narrower and more winding so it’s best to ease off the gas and take things a bit slower to ensure that you reach your destination safely. Roads may also be slippery due to inclement weather in higher altitudes.

Caught in a natural disaster?

If the worst does occur and you get caught in a natural disaster, here’s what you should do in each instance:

Earthquake – If you haven’t already, quickly identify a safe place (think: solid and covered), then drop to the floor, seek cover and hold on.

Cyclones and storms – Get inside, secure windows and doors, then stay informed on storm movements via local news.

Flooding – If flooding seems likely, talk to your host or hotel/hostel receptionist and ask where the assembly point is and what the protocols are if flooding occurs.

Regardless of the hazard, if you are a CloseCircle member, you should always contact our operations team for advice and support. If the incident is severe enough, we’ll evacuate you out of there at no extra cost – which is all part of the CloseCircle service.

city new zealand

New Zealand’s cities are modern and full of modern amenities, but they’re are still vulnerable to the impact of natural disasters.


Conclusion: Safe Travels in New Zealand

If you’re planning a trip to New Zealand, it’s worthwhile doing some research into the natural hazards that have occurred recently – a good place to start is the CloseCircle app. This will give you an idea of how dangerous the environment currently is – is it cyclone season? Have there been recent floods, landslides or earthquakes? Will storms ground flights?

Keep yourself up-to-date on the latest threats with the CloseCircle app and you’ll have plenty of time to adjust your plans if you need to.

But natural hazards aside, New Zealand is among the safest places visit in the world. The infrastructure is strong, there are few security threats and the country is politically stable. This gives you every opportunity of seeing as much of this beautiful country as possible.

For more travel advice on New Zealand, contact the CloseCircle team today..

You can read more about the benefits of becoming a CloseCircle member here.

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